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Wyoming Supreme Court to Hear Fracking Lawsuit

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Cheyenne, WYA lawsuit filed by environmentalists regarding the risks of fracking contamination is set to be heard by the Wyoming Supreme Court in November. The lawsuit was filed due to concerns about hydraulic fracking and possible contamination due to the chemicals that are used during the process. Critics of fracking argue that it has been linked to instances of water contamination and illness in people.

The Wyoming lawsuit was filed by environmental groups to force the state and Halliburton Energy Services to make public the list of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, according to The Associated Press (10/17/13). The defendants, meanwhile, claim the chemicals they use in the process fall under protected trade secrets and do not have to be publicly listed. In a previous ruling on the issue, a district court judge found in favor of the defendants.

While some states are fighting to protect energy companies, some municipalities have banned fracking due to concerns about health and environmental risks. According to the New York Times (10/24/13), bans against hydraulic fracturing are popping up across the country, but even those bans face legal challenges. One town, Dryden, New York, faces a lawsuit from energy companies alleging the municipalities do not have the right to impose fracking bans. Although a lower court found in favor of the town, the Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the lawsuit.

Some states are analyzing the health risks associated with fracking. In New York, the evaluation is expected to take five years.

Meanwhile, a study published in the Environmental Science & Technology Journal suggests that fracking may be linked to higher levels of radioactivity in water. The study, conducted by researchers at Duke University (and reported on by USA Today [10/2/13]), suggests that wastewater from a treatment plant may increase the levels of radium in the creek that receives the discharge. According to the study, radium levels were 200 times higher in samples taken from the creek at the site of the discharge than they were in samples from an upstream site.

Studies have resulted in conflicting findings over whether fracking is linked to an increased health risk. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting a study to determine the effect of fracking on drinking water.

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